How the Ebling Library Evolved
Shortly after the university opened its medical school in Science Hall in 1907, two physicians, Drs. Byron Robinson and Lucy Waite, donated their libraries, a total of 750 volumes, to the nascent medical school. These books became the nucleus of a medical library collection, housed at this time within the larger University Library.
In 1924, a fourth-floor room of the new Wisconsin General Hospital on University Ave. (today's Medical Sciences Center) was designated as the first free-standing medical library. It soon moved to the Service Memorial Institutes on Charter St. to gain more space. A trained librarian, Mrs. Paul F. Clark, ran the library on a volunteer basis. Although graced with an attractive foyer featuring exhibit cases, this location was cursed by periodic flooding in basement journal areas.
In 1940, the Regents purchased the large library of William Snow Miller for $15,000. This significantly enlarged the scope of the existing medical collection. In the 1950's, Dr. Maurice Richardson began his donations of rare books and money for their purchase to the small Historical collection.
A New Building in the 60's
The 1960's saw a major expansion as plans were developed for a large new library to be named in honor of Dr. William S. Middleton, the well-known dean of the Medical School. Ground was broken in 1962 and the brand new grey-brown brick and glass Middleton Library, constructed by J.H. Findorff for a cost of $1,250,000. opened its doors six years later. A major part of the funding for this new structure was donated by the Wisconsin Medical School alumni.
Soon thereafter the director, Miss Helen Crawford, gave a dramatic boost to the growth of the Historical Collection with her purchase of about half of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh's undergraduate collection, at a Sotheby's auction in London.
Weston Library Opens at the New Hospital and Clinics
In the late 70's the University of Wisconsin Hospitals on University Ave. moved to the towering new Clinical Science Center at the far western edge of campus. Under Director Virginia Holtz a second library location, the Weston Library, (named in memory of Dr. Frank L. Weston) opened there in 1978. To meet the needs of the new hospital and the School of Nursing a basic collection of medical books and journals, and the beginnings of the current nursing collection, were moved from Middleton Library out to the new Weston facility. This library's collection and staff rapidly grew to meet more of the complex needs of the new hospital, the medical and nursing schools, and an increasing number of research staff. Weston, despite its relatively small size, housed a finely-tuned collection of the print and electronic resources most needed by its users.
Computers Replace Card Catalog, Revolutionize Searching
In the later 1980's, following a nationwide trend, the familiar wooden card catalog was replaced by a computerized catalog. Publicly available databases on CD-ROM replaced cumbersome online database terminals used only by librarians. These were later supplanted by a variety of information sources available via the libraries' networked servers, or more recently via the Internet. User-friendly interfaces on databases and users' new ability to access these databases from their homes or offices transformed the activity of searching.
Pharmacy Library Joins Health Sciences
By 1950 the Pharmacy Library's collection had grown from a small group of books and journals in the dean's office to about 4,000 volumes. At this time the School of Pharmacy petitioned the University Libraries to include Pharmacy in its system. This was approved and the collection became officially known as the F.B. Power Pharmaceutical Library, honoring the school's founder, who had donated his personal book and journal collection to the library.
By the 1990's the Pharmacy collection had expanded to about 38,000 volumes. An administrative merger in 1996 moved this library out of the General Library System and into the Health Sciences Libraries (their new name after the dissolution of the Center for Health Sciences). This move grew out of the virtually simultaneous planning for both new Health Sciences Libraries space, and a new Pharmacy building. Both libraries planned to move west as part of the HealthStar project.
Libraries Combine and Move
In 2004 all three libraries, Middleton, Weston, and Power Pharmaceutical, merged collections and staff into the newly constructed Health Sciences Learning Center. The resulting combined library was named the Ebling Library after Medical School Alumnus Paul R. Ebling, MD '55. Dr. Ebling graduated from West High School and received his premedical education at Lawrence College, Marquette University and UW-Madison. He graduated from UW-Madison Medical School in 1955. Dr. Ebling enjoyed reading and found great pleasure in gaining further knowledge. The library was always one of his favorite places to spend his free time. Through his estate, the family of Paul R. Ebling has given the largest private gift to the HSLC. This generous gift will help ensure that the library will be amongst the most technologically sophisticated in the country.